When she fell pregnant, her parents kicked her out of their home. The Ethiopian teenager then sought refuge across the border in Moyale.
But after giving birth at Sololo Mission Hospital on July 18, 2012, she abandoned the baby. Not even community service penalty by a Moyale court could tighten the bond between the young mother and her baby. She fled. The infant was placed under foster care at the Nairobi Children’s Home.
But on July 11, 2019 the baby found new parents. The court allowed a couple, who had adopted a son in July 2015, to assume parental rights of the baby’s biological parents.
“The child shall have the right to inherit their property. The applicants shall not be able to give up the child owing to any subsequent unforeseen behaviour or other changes in the child. This court dispenses with the consent of the child’s biological mother who abandoned it and disappeared into Ethiopia,” said Justice Aggrey Muchelule.
Hers is just one of several cases of parents running away from their children. While some give up their children due to economic hardships, others do so due to traditions and the stigma of giving birth at a young age. It is a situation that has seen the children acquire new parents, identities and homes as they continue with their lives without knowing their biological parents.
Family lawyer John Swaka says the emotions that come with the inability to raise a child lead to such surrenders that have seen some of the children get adopted by caring families.
However, he says, there are cases where parents regret having given up their children for adoption and this leads to depression.
The cases include when a woman fails to give birth to another child, becomes economically stable or if the child makes it in life.
“There is no legislation on reasons for giving up a child for adoption. It is upon the mother or guardian to know the reasons for taking such action,” he said.
It is such a situation that saw the High Court in Nairobi protect a child by giving her a new identity after a couple in Machakos County was allowed to adopt her.
“Baby RWS aka RW shall henceforth be known as STN,” Justice Muchelule ordered after he was satisfied that all the legal requirements for a local adoption under the Children Act had been met.
Article 53(1)(a) of the constitution provides that every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth. Section 11 of the Children’s Act also provides that every child shall have a right to a name and nationality and that where a child is deprived of his identity, the government shall provide appropriate assistance and protection with a view of establishing his identity.
Baby STN was born on February 16, 2018 at Mwihila Mission Hospital but was given up for adoption by her biological parents on the grounds that she was conceived from an incestuous relationship, which is a taboo in their community the baby would be considered an outcast.
The child was then handed over to the Kenya Children’s Home Adoption Society on the same day but on March 6, 2018, she was placed under the care of Springs Life Children’s Home by the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kakamega County. On August 7, 2018, she was placed to bond with a couple that got married in December 2014 but has not had a child to date.
The court finally allowed them to adopt the baby on July 11. In Nairobi County, a couple surrendered their son for adoption two days after he was born.
The couple is said to have approached Little Angeles Network on the grounds that they had two other children, with the younger one being two years old and were therefore not socially or economically ready to take care of the new born. They signed a consent order on November 2, 2017, to detach them from the baby forever. The following day, the Children’s Court issued an order that committed the baby to New Life Home Trust and declared him free for adoption.
More than six months later, the baby’s luck to be raised in a home with two parents came knocking when he was placed with a married couple identified as AWM and YKM for purposes of bonding.
Socially and emotionally stable
The couple was married in 2008, had a son born in December 2012 and was socially and emotionally stable and suitable to adopt a child.
Early this year, the court appointed a guardian and ordered him, along with the Director of Children Services, to carry out a social inquiry to determine whether the couple was suitable to adopt the boy and provide him with a good environment.
And on July 29 this year, Justice Muchelule said the adopting couple had been informed that they were to assume parental rights and obligations of the biological parents of the child.
This was the same case with a love affair between cousins that led to the birth of baby TNM at Mbagathi Hospital on April 14, 2018.
The child’s mother and a guardian wrote to the Kenya Children’s Home, seeking to offer the child for adoption.
On January 24, an unmarried woman identified as RNMJ, with both Kenyan and British citizenship, applied to the court to allow her adopt the child. “This Court is satisfied that the applicant is qualified and able to take care of the child. She has no criminal record and is of good health,” said Justice Muchelule in his May 23 judgment.
“The child has bonded well with the applicant and she is well looked after. The child considers the applicant her parent.”
In rare cases, certain fathers have legally given up their biological rights to men who come into the lives of their ex-wives or girlfriends. For instance, a man identified by the court as CMK gave his consent to the adoption of his son on March 3, 2018. He gave it to the mother who had got married to a US citizen living in Kenya.
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